Monday, 19 November, 2018

Monsanto ordered to pay $289 million in world’s first Roundup cancer trial

Plaintiff Dewayne Johnson reacts after hearing the verdict to his case against Monsanto Plaintiff Dewayne Johnson reacts after hearing the verdict to his case against Monsanto Credit JOSH EDELSON AFP
Ginger Lawrence | 11 August, 2018, 14:09

Monsanto denies that glyphosate causes cancer and says it intends to appeal against the ruling.

On Friday, a San Francisco jury agreed.

Mr Partridge said that more than 800 scientific studies and reviews and conclusions by regulators in the USA and around the world "support the fact that glyphosate does not cause cancer".

But he added that the court decision "does not change the fact that more than 800 scientific studies and reviews. support the fact that glyphosate does not cause cancer, and did not cause Mr Johnson's cancer".

"We are sympathetic to Mr. Johnson and his family", Monsanto Vice President Scott Partridge said in a statement following the verdict. "We are grateful to Mr. Johnson", he said, "for bravely facing down the "most evil corporation" in the world". It was expedited because court filings indicated that Johnson was dying.

Labour deputy leader Tom Watson said on Twitter that the verdict has "huge implications for the food chain".

DeWayne Johnson, a groundskeeper at a San Francisco Bay Area school district, sprayed large quantities of the product, sold under the brand name Roundup, from a 50-gallon tank attached to a truck during gusty winds. "We will appeal this decision and continue to vigorously defend this product, which has a 40-year history of safe use and continues to be a vital, effective, and safe tool for farmers and others".

Johnson's lawyers, relying on his testimony and expert witnesses, argued that his exposure, including accidents that got him soaked from head to toe in Roundup, caused his non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Johnson read the label and even contacted the company after developing a rash but was never warned it could cause cancer, Wisner said.

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George Lombardi, a lawyer for the agribusiness giant, said non-Hodgkin's lymphoma takes years to develop, so Johnson's cancer must have started well before he began working at the school.

"The simple fact is he is going to die".

"Monsanto made Roundup the oxycontin of pesticides and now the addiction and damage they caused have come home to roost", said Ken Cook, President of the Environmental Working Group, a USA environmental organization that researches toxic chemicals and advocates for corporate accountability.

"The science finally caught up, where they couldn't bury it anymore", Wisner told the jury in closing arguments.

Johnson's lawyers sought and won 39 million dollars (£30 million) in compensatory damages and 250 million dollars (£196 million) of the 373 million dollars (£292 million) they wanted in punitive damages.

The lawsuit follows the 2015 World Health Organisation findings which classified Roundup's main ingredient, glyphosate, as a probable carcinogen.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in September 2017 concluded a decades-long assessment of glyphosate risks and found the chemical not likely carcinogenic to humans.

Over the course of the four-week trial, jurors heard testimony by statisticians, doctors, public health researchers and epidemiologists who disagreed on whether glyphosate can cause cancer.